from Cannondale dropped in to Southern California with a pickup truck full of their latest trail bike. The Habit is the East Coast bike brand's latest edition to its Trail range, but it should be in the "Overmountain." It's an all new platform based upon 27.5-inch wheels, a simplified 120-millimeter-travel suspension chassis and new version of the carbon Lefty suspension strut. The purpose of the Habit is two-fold: to maximize your performance, and to boost the fun factor of your trail riding experience. Key to both goals is the Habit's progressive geometry - along with some other tricks, like its RockShox Full Sprint remote lockout that controls both the shock and its Lefty strut, and a roomy cockpit that is spec'd to please customers with aggressive riding styles.
Cannondale is banking on the success of the new bike, offering ten models (including two female specific bikes) that range from a wallet-breaking $12,250 for the limited edition Carbon Black Inc, to the very affordable AL 6, which retails for $1,950. Top models feature carbon fiber frames and suspension, mid-priced versions use carbon front sections with aluminum swingarms, and the three lowest priced Habits feature a newly developed aluminum chassis that is a mirror image of its carbon parent. The Habit looks sharp and, as it turns out, it rides as well as it looks.
Habit Carbon 1 at a Glance:
• Frame: Carbon throughout, single-pivot type rear suspension with carbon rocker link. 120mm travel "Zero Pivot" flex-stay swingarm design, 1.5" head tube, BB 30 Pressfit bottom bracket. 142x12 axle spacing.
• Key numbers: 68-degree head angle 74-degree seat angle, 13.1 inch BB, 23"/58.4cm top tube (med)
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Fork: Lefty 2.0 Carbon, 120mm, XLR, 50mm offset, remote lockout
• Shock: RockShox Monarch DebonAir XX, remote lockout
• Drivetrain SRAM XX1/X01, 11-speed
• Crankset: Cannondale HollowGram Si, 30t SpideRing
• Brakes: SRAM Guide RSC, 180/180mm
• Wheelset: Cannondale CZero Carbon 27.5"
• Color option: Berzerker Green
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL, Women's XS
• Frame Weight: 4.36 pounds/1980 grams (med)
• Weight Complete: 25.5 pounds/11.6kg (med)
• MSRP: $7460 USD
• Contact: Cannondale
I rode the Habit Carbon 1, which retails for $7460, outfitted with a SRAM one-by drivetrain and brakes. The Carbon 1 introduces the brand's latest endeavor, the CZero carbon wheelset, which is designed by Cannondale and manufactured in Asia. On the scale, the Habit Carbon 1 weighs almost exactly 25.5 pounds, plus or minus how much Stan's sealant is in its Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires - which is lightweight by any standard in this class. It feels roomy in the cockpit and its steering feels marvelously light and balanced. I was asked to arrange a ride that would showcase a 120-millimeter-travel design, so I opted for a park near San Diego that I use quite often to review PB's mid-travel trail bikes. The boys from Cannondale got to sample some of Southern California's hard pack soil, high-speed singletacks, punchy climbs and boulder fields, while I had an opportunity to determine whether the new Habit hits its marks on familiar ground.Technical highlights:Tough chassis
: Cannondale says it uses a special carbon layup for its mountain bike frames that integrates ballistic materials which are normally used for military armor. They call it "Ballistec" and its purpose is to add toughness and impact resistance to the frame, rather than exclusively concentrating on stiffness and light weight. As an alpha member of Cannondale's trail bke range, the Habit is purpose built to be thrashed hard daily. Reportedly, a medium-sized Habit frame (painted, with hardware), weighs well under four and a half pounds, so that impact resistance should come in handy.Cross-pollination:
The Habit borrows a bag of tricks from Cannondale's design experience building road and mountain bikes. The ZeroPivot stays share profiles used to keep pro road frames torsionally rigid, while offering some relief from vertical impacts. The caliper mount is the new flat road standard, which is lighter, more reliable and easier to produce in carbon. In similar fashion to how some carbon crank arms are produced, the suspension's rocker link is molded by compacting thousands of ribbons cut from pre-impregnated carbon fiber under heat and pressure, which yields a finished link with immense omnidirectional strength, similar to that of a metal part. The main swingarm and seatstay pivots use a locking taper, which has become the industry standard by popular demand, to ensure there is no bearing play. Road riders loathe creaking components, so to that end, the mountain bike guys borrowed the latest tricks from the road group and updated the Habit's press-fit BB30 bottom bracket system to keep it silent. Racing Influences:
Lessons learned from racing enduro and XC led designers to move the shock to the top tube in order to make room for a water bottle or tool storage on the down tube. And, while the hoses for the internally routed dropper seatpost and the Monarch shock's X-loc remote lockout are internally routed, Cannondale chose to route the more troublesome rear brake hose and full-length derailleur cable housing externally to facilitate quick repairs on race day, or the evening before an important ride. Also borrowed from XC racing, is the use of RockShox's Full Sprint hydraulic remote lockout - a dual button that locks out both fork and shock with one push. Cannondale's Lefty uses a similar hydraulic mechanism as the RockShox X-loc system, so the two firms collaborated to share the same control.All-mountain DNA:
The Habit's suspension gets its DNA from the Jekyll. Because the rider can switch off the suspension at will, Cannondale could afford to tune the Habit's 2.0 Carbon Lefty's XLR cartridge and its RockShox Monarch shock to favor the downs and optimize traction. The way it was explained was that the new Lefty cartridge has a better balance between its high and low-speed damping curves. A new air piston allows lower spring pressures, so the Lefty can perform better on smaller hits, while the XLT damper provides better support in the mid-stroke. Using the Debonair volume sleeve and a few volume spacers, RockShox achieved a similar tune on the Monarch shock.Habit Carbon 1 Geometry:Progressive geometry:
The same could be said for the Habit's frame numbers. Cannondale learned from enduro racing that super low bottom brackets may turn well, but time and concentration lost due to errant pedal strikes isn't worth the benefit of a slightly lower center of mass. The Habit's BB is set at 13.1 inches - which still provides the stabilizing factor of a 19-millimeter negative drop, while maintaining enough pedal clearance to keep the cranks churning through rock gardens.
Up front, the Lefty 2.0 has 50 millimeters of offset, which plays well with its 27.5-inch wheel and 68-degree head angle. When steering or making corrections with the front wheel, the tire's contact patch doesn't feel as if it is moving forward or back as the handlebar is turned, so the front end feels very predictable. The medium frame's 23-inch top tube is ample, but not long by enduro standards. It feels roomy, though, because the steep, 74-degree seat angle effectively lengthens the bike's front-center and its wheelbase. The Habit gets its stability from its wheelbase and steering geometry, and it gets its playfulness from frame angles that are at least one degree steeper than present fashion dictates.First Impressions:
|After a day in the saddle aboard the Habit carbon 1, I understand why Cannondale is so excited about its release. The Habit is the bike you'd rather have when you are huffing your 160-millimeter-travel enduro racer up a long hill on your way to bag a gripping descent - and, most of the time, you'd want it for the downs too. It zips up technical climbs and on smoother ascents, a push of the Full Sprint button will make you feel like you are pedaling a chubby World Cup XC machine. In lockout mode, there are blow-off circuits in both the Lefty strut and the Monarch shock to handle larger amplitude bumps, but it won't be a comfortable ride. With the suspension open, the Habit pedals quite well and in fact, that is where you will probably ride it most of the time. With the lockout engaged, the bike chatters around corners and drifts under braking. With the suspension open, the Habit feels planted almost all the time and there is ample support in the mid-stroke to keep your legs feeling fresh.|
Where the Habit earns its highest marks is in the steering department, The bike eats up corners and it does so in an easy manner that requires very little pressure on the grips. The simple single-pivot rear suspension tends to stiffen up under braking, and even with its grippy 2.25-inch Nobby Nic tires, I found that I was skidding a bit more than necessary while slowing for high-speed corners until I adjusted my braking style.
The surety of the Habit on the downs means that you'll find yourself wishing for more suspension travel, but neither end of the bike bottoms harshly, and even if it did, I don't think that would stop you from wringing the Cannondale out at every chance. Cannondale is going to make a lot of riders happy with the Habit, especially considering that there is one to fit almost every budget in the enthusiast-level trailbike market. When asked, I replied that the only improvements that I would want would be a little more suspension travel up front and more aggressive rubber. Turns out that Cannondale already has that covered. Mike Levy will be picking up the Habit SE for a long-term review - it's a pumped up version of the Carbon 1 that sports a 130mm Lefty, larger tires, and a more gravity-oriented component spec. Cheers until then. - RC
View full sized and additional images in the Habit First Look Gallery.